Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Scoobie Davis has an interesting essay about how the Rev. Moon’s money has bought politicians and people in the media, including Chris Matthews and Bob Dole, both of whom were previously hostile to Moon and his henchmen. He begins with this statement:

Sometimes I wonder which is worse: someone who never had principles (e.g., Karl Rove) or someone who once acted like a human being and then lost his way when the price was right. When I look at the Moon controversy, there are a number of people who initially took a principled stand against the anti-American megalomaniac but who changed their tune because either, 1) Moon dumped billions of dollars to help the American right; or 2) because they wanted to line their pockets.

A good question. He provides a couple of examples of this, beginning with Bob Dole:

An example of the former is former Senator Robert Dole. In the 1970’s, Dole was justifiably troubled about Moon’s activities and his attempts to corrupt the American political system. In 1976, Dole held a public forum in Washington in which survivors and the families of victims of the Unification Church spoke about their nightmarish experiences with the cult. In February 1979, Dole held congressional hearings on the threat of cults in which discussion of Moon’s pernicious activities were a prominent feature. Carlton Sherwood, a prominent paid apologist for Moon, credits Dole with setting into motion the investigations that led to the imprisonment of the cult leader for tax evasion…

That all changed in the 1980’s. After attempts to evangelize America in the 1970’s were an abysmal failure, Moon pretty much figured that his messianic vision didn’t play in Peoria (or anywhere else in the United States) so he kept a low profile and dumped a few billion dollars into a right-wing media empire. Apparently, Dole knew which way the wind was blowing because he let bygones be bygones and lent Moon credibility by appearing the Messiah’s “Tear Down the Cross” Washington prayer breakfast in 2003.

And a second example in Chris Matthews:

One of those corrupted by this easy Moonie money was Chris Matthews. To Matthews’ credit, when the Moon-owned Washington Times was established in 1982, Matthews–who was then the assistant to then-Speaker Tip O’Neil–refused to grant the Times any legitimacy by not credentialing their operatives (reporters). Matthews quipped at the time, “We work hard enough responding to legitimate press inquires” It was a principled move.

To Matthews’ discredit, when he had the chance to pocket Moonie money by according the Moonie media apparatus undeserved legitimacy, Matthews took the money. Fast forward to 1989 (after Matthews left government service and was Washington Bureau Chief of the San Francisco Examiner). The Unification Church paid Matthews $2500 to speak at a conference for the Moonie front group, the World Media Association. Mathews’ descent into media whoredom is recounted by James Whelan, the former editor of the Washington Times (who resigned as editor of the Times in 1984 after Moon reneged on his promise not to impose his sectarian agenda on the Times) at a conference that addressed cults and the media (click here and watch 57:35 to 1:00:25 for Whelan’s take on Matthews). To show how Matthews did a complete 180 regarding the Moonie media, the Washington Times–the rag that Matthews had previously dismissed as pseudo-journalism–began running Matthew’s syndicated column in the 1990’s.

And he provides a basic breakdown of the media strategy used by Moon’s many front groups to garner positive coverage and build legitimacy:

Moon and his underlings have covered their bases with a two-pronged media strategy: 1) Subverting journalism by becoming part of the media with the Washington Times, UPI, and Insight magazine; 2) Undermining media independence with Moonie front groups that give large conference fees to mainstream journalists. The 1992 Frontline documentary on Moon addresses this:

Narrator: Besides paying for his own media, Moon sought to influence legitimate press outlets. One vehicle was the World Media Association.

[Moon’s right hand man Bo Hi Pak]: ” And the founder is Reverend Moon, who is deeply concerned for the world media, particularly in the battle against communism all over the world; who sees that the role of the media is so vital and so important for the salvation of our civilization.”

Narrator: The World Media Association sponsors all-expense-paid conferences and junkets for journalists all over the world. As Bo Hi Pak told public station KQED in 1984, the Unification Movement used the association as a weapon for a larger crusade.

Pak: “But is a total war. Basically war of ideas. War of mind, the battlefield is the human mind. This is where the battle is fought. So in this war the entire thing will be mobilized, political means, social means, economical means and propagandistic means, and basically trying to take over the other person’s mind. That is what the third world war is all about–the war of ideology.”

The upshot is that the Moonies received journalistic legitimacy by becoming part of the media and by transferring vast amounts of money to the media elite through Moonie front groups.

And they have been incredibly successful in doing so. It is astonishing to me that over the last few years, as Moon has actually been crowned by an American Congressman in a ceremony at a Senate office building and embarked on a project to have Christian churches take the crosses out of their sanctuaries to signify that Christ failed in his mission and Moon is here to complete the job, the mainstream media has completely ignored the story.

The only ones to do any investigative journalism at all are independent journalists like John Gorenfeld, Scoobie Davis and Robert Parry. Even the Christian media has ignored the issue. Ironically, one of the few exceptions is the Worldnutdaily. Joseph Farah wrote a scathing column about Moon, but it was pure hypocrisy; he claimed to have discovered how dangerous Moon was “more than a decade ago” and that he had learned “a lesson to me at the time on just how easy it is to be compromised”, yet even after writing that column he was profiting from and promoting Moon’s media empire. Even after he wrote that column, Farah’s column appeared in the Washington Times and the Worldnutdaily was still selling subscriptions to Insight and the Washington Times and profiting from that relationship.


  1. #1 Jim Ramsey
    January 31, 2007

    Moon has always been my nominee for the real-life role of Nehemiah Scudder.

    “If this goes on”….

  2. #2 Mark
    January 31, 2007

    I have nothing but contempt for the Moonies and their lackies, but Chris Matthews had no business deciding that one news orgaization was legitimate and another was not while he worked for the speaker of the House. What’s the difference between that and attempts to classify bloggers or other intennet reporters as less than legitimate journalists? Only the ideology.

  3. #3 David Durant
    January 31, 2007

    Can’t discuss Mr Moon without mentioning this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f08clPMODw8

    For those folks who don’t already know it’s a video of Rev Moon being _crowned in the US Senate building_ (yes, really).

  4. #4 Joe Max
    January 31, 2007

    I’ve often wondered: if the shoe were on the other foot, would the “progressive community” (which I consider myself a part of) behave the same way? If Moon had decided to back the left-wing instead of the right-wing, and drop millions into progressive causes a la George Soros — leaving everything else about his showy religiosity unchanged — would they be defending him now, instead of damning him?

    They say everyone has their price. I admit it, but I like to think of mine as pretty damn high.

  5. #5 Sastra
    January 31, 2007

    David D., I just watched the video and that is one scary thing. World Peace! True Love! Who could be against those things? Sign me up. I want to wear a white shirt and wave my arms around, too.

    Sheesh. If I were an evangelical Christian, I suspect I’d now target Moon as best candidate for the Anti-christ.

    I think Joe Max’s comment is perceptive. “Peace and Love” is a powerful mantra. Back it up with copious amounts of money, a reaffirmation of “spiritual” values, and a promise to bring the world under one God (finally!) and people are likely to spin disturbing details into the fabric of the Big Picture they want to see.

  6. #6 NonyNony
    January 31, 2007

    Joe Max – The “progressive community” would run away from Moon as quickly as their feet could carry them. Because the right-wing noise machine would tie every nutty thing that he does directly to the progressive community with an anvil. Think about how Jane Fonda and Susan Sarandon are painted by the noisemakers on the right and imagine the field day they could have with Moon’s antics. No matter how much money he’d have to spread around, it wouldn’t be worth it.

    Sastra – I think some people DO think that Moon is the anti-Christ. He’s a good match for the description, anyway. Of course, since the description fits a lot of smooth-talking snake oil salesmen, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and George W Bush probably all fit the profile too.

  7. #7 Joe Max
    January 31, 2007

    NonyNony: I hope with every fiber of my being that you would be right.

    But I think of the case of Hugo Chavez, who tends to be pretty batty too. For sure, Chavez is nowhere near Moon’s level of sheer, jaw-dropping hubris and insanity, but sometimes he seems to be pushing on the envelope. However, because the guy is a Socialist who gives away free heating fuel to cash-strapped Amercian families and regularly sticks his rhetorical finger in Bush’s eye, the Left largely gives him a pass on his whackiness. (When Cindy Sheehan took a trip to Venezuela and to get kissed by Chavez, she had truly jumped the shark.) Which, of course, the Right-wing noise machine hangs on the Left, as you say.

    Crank the whackiness factor up along with the level of cash spread around, and you got Sun Yung Moon. How whacky would Chavez have to get before the Left ran away screaming?

  8. #8 DuWayne
    January 31, 2007

    Joe Max –

    Chavez got too whacky for me a while ago, with his talk of changing the constitution in Venezuela, so he could run for president indefinately. Unfortunately, that has yet to drive many on the left, to denounce him.

    I think you pick a great example. I daresay that there are plenty of elements on the left, that are just as stupid as their counterparts on the right, who fall into Moon’s bullshit.

  9. #9 MikeQ
    January 31, 2007

    Did Moon really dump “billions of dollars” of our country’s right? That seems a bit far fetched to me. That’s akin to him paying for several full election year campaign cycles.

    Are you sure about that, Ed? It just seems a bit implausible. I know you didn’t write it in the first place, but do you know if it’s true or not?

  10. #10 Ed Brayton
    January 31, 2007


    It’s accurate. He has dumped $3 billion into the Washington Times media network alone.

  11. #11 Prup aka Jim Benton
    January 31, 2007

    MikeQ: Yes, I’ve heard the same figure, and it seems to be accurate.

    As for the left having the same vulnerability, sadly true. Chavez, the Black Pathers, and most specifically on point, remember that Jim Jones’ People’s Temple — in its SF incarnation — was highly regarded by a lot of people because of its interracial and generally ‘progressive’ orientation.

  12. #12 James
    February 1, 2007

    Every ideology has its nutters and we all tend to be less hostile than we should be to the nutters in our turf. Sad, but true.

  13. #13 Prup aka Jim Benton
    February 1, 2007

    That’s why I came up with “Prup’s Law.” (“Whatever position you take on any political, religious, social, or sexual controversy, you’ll have some idiots agreeing with you.”) The trick is to make sure your opponents don’t beat you over the head with them. (And the corrolarly is that your opponents will have some idiots on their side. They aren’t always the best weapons to use either.)

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